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What’s the Deal with Downloadable Content?

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Nathaniel Rioux

Alright, as an avid gamer I remember the days when video games were not as expensive as they are today:  new maps and new game types were released as an update for free, and multiplayer was free over the internet. Now alright, I may seem old fashioned, but my question for the entertainment industry is, why the change? I understand the idea of profit and that if you sell tons of copies of Halo 4 at its normal sixty dollar price, it’s not as profitable as selling the legendary edition at ninety dollars a pop, but really? When did it become that folks have to choose between a week’s worth of groceries or a game?

Although most say that the reason for this change in game pricing is due to the way games are produced and sold, I find that hard to believe. A great example of this is NCSoft with its recent shut down of the MMO City of Heroes; while the game did go free to play, they found it more profitable to just eliminate the game, shut down an entire studio, and layoff an entire department because in their minds, they were not that far into the black. The question I have for them is where is the customer loyalty base there? Has the idea of a gamer become that of a simple statistic to which companies fight over the money of hard-working gamers?

This brings me to DLC’s…why on earth do you have to pay for them? Shouldn’t it be the goal of the company to provide a form of decent entertainment to supplement the needs of the person who bought the game? Should I now have to pay for new content just to keep playing a game? I think not.

Let’s be realistic here, unless you are an avid gamer, you are most likely a one game type of person (as in a person who just plays one game occasionally when you are bored). So wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the company to keep their clients entertained for as long as possible? The best example I can think of is Team Fortress 2 from Valve. While the game is free to play, there are zero obligations to pay for the game, making it an effective source of entertainment. Even new content is not released as a pay for DLC’s, which makes the game new and exciting. The game was released back in 2010, yet two years later is the best game for PC gamers to play. Why? Because gamers don’t have to pay to keep playing the game. What this does is it allows for Valve to have a hold on the market share while keeping gamers entertained and off the competition’s games.

So should DLC need to be payable? The simple answer is no, but sadly the producers of video games understand that they can get away with payable content.